Artist Yoshitomo Nara

Do Not Disturb! 1996, Yoshitomo Nara

A while back I became a fan of Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara, and what initially caught my eye of course was this white dog. He appears in paintings, drawings, and installations. At some point, somewhere (Toronto? London? Chicago? San Francisco? I can’t remember!) I saw an installation of three of these white dogs in a circle, bigger than life, filling up a room. I was smitten.

But look at this guy! I hope I can visit Japan one day and see him in person at the Aomori Museum of Art. Just look how happy these people are! And who wouldn’t be? There’s something so great about the incredible sense of scale with any piece of that size, and it would be even better if that piece is a gigantic dog!

Yoshitomo Nara at Aomori Museum of Art

Yoshitomo Nara at Aomori Museum of Art

Yoshitomo Nara has also created a sweet children’s book for Chronicle with this giant white dog at the center of the story, The Lonesome Puppy. It’s about a dog that’s just so darn big, no one notices him except for one special little girl. Aw.

The Lonesome Puppy from Chronicle Books

To be fair, Yoshitomo Nara isn’t entirely about white dogs. A lot of his work features these little mischievous kids, they’re trouble but they’re very alluring. And who knows what they’re up to! Smoking cigarettes, fighting, swearing a little and glaring a lot. I like these kids, but they’re somewhat intimidating and make me uneasy, like the kid that stares at you on a subway and has the power to make you squirm. Oh save me, giant white dog!

Yoshitomo Nara's work

Great article on artist Yoshitomo Nara here.
For some info on the Aomori Museum of Art, their website is here and there’s a good writeup here.
Aomori installation photos from flickr, here and here.

Alberto Garutti : ALL’APERTO

Alberto Garutti : All'Aperto

“The dog portrayed here belongs to a Trivero family. This work is dedicated to them and the people who will talk about it as they sit here.”

In 2009 Italian artist Alberto Garutti created a permanent installation in the town of Trivero, Italy as his contribution to the Fondazione Zegna’s ALL’APERTO (OUTDOORS) project. The goal of the project is to make art accessible to the community, and Mr. Garutti chose to incorporate dogs (hooray!) of local families because, in his words: “Through dogs, you also speak about owners and families, whom they reflect. Dogs are also a great metaphor for art: they want to ‘socialize’ with everybody.” What a wonderful sentiment.

Alberto Garutti : Trivero

The photos above and this summary are taken from the project’s website:

“In order to map out the territory of Trivero, Alberto Garutti sought the collaboration of the teachers and local primary school fifth grade students. He asked the children to choose, describe and draw the town’s dogs: Eva, Pulce, Sbadiglio, Lampo, Ferro, Sissi and Otto, Luna…

This process enabled the artist to establish contact with the kids, their families, and the owners of the dogs, meeting, photographing and involving them in the realization of the project. The result is a public work that can be used (and ‘adopted’) by everyone.”

I especially love the last sentence, because it’s a perfect parallel to dogs in our lives. If you have a few minutes, watch Mr. Garutti in the video about the project. There are English subtitles: And if you happen to find yourself way up in the north of Italy sometime, visit Trivero and experience the installation for yourself! It’s a beautiful part of Italy. But then, what part of Italy is not beautiful?